A tradition dating back to 1987, each year the seniors of Marquette University come together to give back to the place they have called home for the past four years.

A Letter to the Class of 2014


Class of 2014 –

Now it’s our time!

Senior Challenge has been a tradition at Marquette for over 25 years. In 1987, a group of seniors gathered to discuss the senior class gift to the university. They wanted to instill a permanent program to further grow the participation of graduating seniors – and created Senior Challenge.

For the past several decades the focus of Senior Challenge has been on seniors supporting their fellow classmates in the form of scholarship aid. Today, this tradition continues. Seniors are asked to support what helped them #BeTheDifference, especially the scholarship aid they have received.

Senior Challenge is the tradition of paying it forward. Past graduating seniors, now alumni, continue to show their support for current Marquette students and our mission to ‘be men and women for others.’ Help us continue this tradition.

Marquette has supported us these past four years. Marquette has welcomed us and made us feel at home. Class of 2014, it is our turn to carry on the tradition.

Give your gift today and help make this year’s Senior Challenge the best yet! Because we are the best and brightest class Marquette has seen! Because, WE ARE MARQUETTE!

To make a gift, please visit marquette.edu/seniorchallenge.

The Next Generation


When we graduate on May 18th, 2014, there will be a lot that will differ about us.  Some of us will leave here with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and others will gain a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Some of us will enter the workforce soon, and others will go on to pursue post graduate degrees, yet there is something that unifies us: We have all benefitted from an academic program at Marquette. As we leave, why not make a difference for those who want to attend this university?

One of the various ways that you can continue to make a difference in the lives of future generations of Marquette students is by giving back to your College Scholars’ Fund. Whether in Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Communication, Education, Engineering, Heath Sciences, or Nursing, your $20.14 donation can impact a students’ time at the university that has given us so much. Here are some examples:

Allowing a first generation student to fulfill his aspirations of becoming a broadcasting journalist through the College of Communication

Giving the oldest of four children the ability to major in Accounting and lessening the financial burden on her family.

Permitting a Economics and History student in the College of Arts and Sciences gain legislative experience while interning at Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington, D.C.

Allowing a Pre-Dental Scholar in the College of Health Sciences the ability to earn their undergraduate degree and attend the only dental school in the state of Wisconsin, Marquette School of Dentistry.

These are just some of the ways that giving to the Scholars Fund of your respective college can make allow  future students to attend this university , without worrying about if it is affordable or not.

Seniors, as we have less than fifty days before graduation, ask yourself – How would you like to help the incoming classes #Be The Difference?

Sterling Hardaway, Arts’14

Senior Challenge: Who We Are and Why is it Important!

Photo: We asked the seniors to describe their Marquette Experience in 1 word.

You may have noticed Facebook getting busy recently with upcoming Senior Challenge events, or heard your friends discussing the epic kickoff event at Buckheads on National Marquette Day, still others have never heard of us at all.

We are different from Senior Week. Yes, we plan fun events for the greatest senior class there has ever been! However, we are on a different mission: to #BeTheDifference. 

95% of us receive some type of financial aid to attend this University. Ever wonder where that aid came from? It is men and women ‘men and women for others,’ being men and women for us, the students. Reinforcing an important lesson with us that has been intertwined into all areas of our education here since day 1.

So who are they? They are members of our Marquette family! Alumni, who at one point in time sat in the same seats in which we currently sit. They know how special and unique our family is, the Marquette family, and they want to see all of their family members be successful. Something my Papa always said comes to mind right about now, “You lucky guys!” He was right! We are lucky and so fortunate to be apart of a family and community so special!

#TuitionRunsOutDay begins tomorrow. It is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to those Marquette family members who have provided that aid which allows us to continue with the rest of our school year. Without them, campus would not be what it is today.

So how is this relevant to Senior Challenge? Senior Challenge is one of the oldest student run initiatives on campus, and consists of current seniors working to #BeTheDifference. We, as soon to be alumni, have a great understanding of what our aid has done for us, and how we have benefitted from it. We have seen the growth of our campus, not just in numbers of students, but in building renovations, new facilities and even completely new buildings added to the Marquette skyline in the last four years. All of which helped to improve as young professionals. New facilities and programs that made classrooms more innovative and interactive, all of which allowed us to be better students and in turn be better ‘men and women for others.’

This is all made possible thanks to the members of our family. Remember all the way back to the first week of Orientation? Yes, I realize it feels like a ways back, but remember how everywhere you went you were greeted with a smile and “Welcome to the Marquette family!” That is because we are all instantaneously welcomed and like other families, you’re stuck with us.

As we continue to countdown the days to “grown-up life” think about your role in this family. Senior Challenge is our first opportunity to give to the future members of our family. While you may never see the recipient of your gift, think back to when I asked you if you knew who provided your aid. Most of you responded with an, ‘I don’t know’ as I did. When you give, think of what is still to come from our family, just as the alumni have before you. We must continue the legacy of being ‘men and women for others.’ So give today and #BeTheDifference our family needs us to be. 

-Kathleen Keller, A&S’14

A Community of Difference

Photos provided by Spencer Bonahoom. 

I arrived at Marquette with more uncertainty than I had ever felt before. I was unsure of what my major would be, unconfident about how I would make friends, and wondering what an Indiana boy like me was doing moving to Wisconsin and away from everyone I ever knew. Looking back on my four years here, there is one common thread that erased the uncertainty and made Marquette home: community. It took me a little while to find mine here, but once I did it spread like wildfire. 

It took me until the end of my freshman year, but I first truly found community when I was selected as a Team Leader for Orientation Staff. As a still-shy freshman trying to find a group of people to become close with, the energy and enthusiasm of the students I met on O-Staff was immediately contagious. I not only met a couple of people who would soon become some of my best friends, but I began to feel truly comfortable and at home for the first time at Marquette.

Soon after I found community in O-Staff, I started to realize that there were similar groups like that all around Marquette. I joined another when I became a part of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, where I found a group of brothers that would be there for me any time I needed someone to lean on. Around the same time, I became a Tour Guide, joining a crazy, slightly dysfunctional, passionate family of ambassadors for Marquette. Through joining both of these groups I found people who I started to spend a lot of my time with, and before I even knew it all uncertainty I once had was gone. I felt confident and secure; I honestly felt that Marquette University was now my home.

However, it wasn’t until I started regularly attending Tuesday night mass at St. Joan of Arc Chapel​ that I found the true meaning of community. Unlike the other organizations I had been a part of, this community was fluid, changing from week to week.  It was a collection of students that no one needed to be a “member” of to experience. It was this realization that made the biggest difference to me and helped me realize how truly special Marquette is. Whether it is through a social organization, a club sport, a service group, or any number of other interactions, students here all find their own community. That is what makes the entire university special: we all find our own place, and it is always with open arms that we are accepted into new groups of people. It’s that welcoming spirit of everyone at Marquette that made the difference in my time here and has made more four years so special. That same spirit bonds us all as one, united Marquette community that I am blessed to be a part of. 

-Spencer Bonahoom, Bus. ‘14

And I Thought Change was Unlikely…


Photos provided by Katie Popovich.

             When I arrived on campus as a freshman, I was sure of what my time at Marquette would consist of. I anticipated graduating with a Spanish degree in four years and earning my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree two years later. I expected to gain a lot more knowledge, but I did not believe I would change much in any other ways. I truly thought that at 18 years old, my character was permanently defined. Now, four years later, I can see how wrong and naive I was back then. During these past four years I became a member of so many wonderful organizations, I gained extremely strong friendships, and I developed an overwhelming sense of love/obsession for Marquette University. Being a Golden Eagle for four years has definitely changed my character in a positive way. 

            The part of Marquette that really helped me transform into who I am today is the Office of Student Development and the programs that fall under its control. Thanks to the Office of Student Development, I was a member of Orientation Staff for three years. O-Staff helped me to come out of my shell and it helped me develop my leadership skills. I was fortunate enough to work as the Family Coordinator on the Orientation Planning Team this past year and the experience will forever be my favorite part of my four years here. I have also enjoyed being a part of the S.T.A.R program as both a participant and as a Retreat Leader. Both O-Staff and S.T.A.R. influenced my decision to work as a Program Assistant for Family Programs and the Center for Community Service this year, and the position has allowed me to interact with students and also become more involved with service, a goal I had set for my senior year.

            Reflecting on my past four years, not every decision I made was the wisest; however, my decision to become involved on campus, especially within OSD is one that I will never regret. My involvement in organizations showed me a whole other side of Marquette I never imagined as a new freshman. Yes, I will be receiving a Spanish degree in a few months, and yes, two years later I will have my Doctorate of PT. However, when the time for me to leave Marquette comes, I know that I will be leaving with so much more than just my degrees. 

-Katie Popovich, A&S ‘14, DPT ‘16

Transferring for another shot!

Photos provided by Meredith Donaldson.

I decided to transfer after my freshman year of college and I came across Marquette. I had never been in a city. I was really confused when I thought the cab driver was kicking me out as he dropped me off in the middle of the street! (Unbeknownst to me, he’d dropped me off in front of Raynor.) I probably looked like such a freshman! As the brief cloud of confusion lifted, I knew that I didn’t just want to be here, I needed to be here. Marquette has since provided me with unique experiences, a Jesuit education, a passion for service and a perpetual will to succeed.

I have done a lot in my seemingly short years here at Marquette.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to help start a Division 1 team from scratch.
I’ve been a member of SAAC (student-athlete advisory committee) for three years.
I’ve started a new organization.
I’ve committed myself to service.
I’ve had two knee surgeries and a broken back.
I’ve encountered adversity.
I’ve encountered heart-break.
I’ve found my passions.
I’ve met life-long friends.
I’ve learned how to fail.
I’ve learned how to succeed.
I’ve adapted.
I’ve learned that a smile can make someone’s day.
I’ve fought for my beliefs.
I’ve been disappointed.
I’ve cried tears of joy.
I’ve determined who I am.
I’ve determined who I am not.

But most of all, I’ve been given the chance to “be the difference”. 

The opportunity to be a student-athlete at Marquette has had an incredibly transformative impact on who I have become. The word “student” comes before “athlete” for a reason and Marquette has shown me why. Marquette has taught me to not just be a student of the university, but to be a student of life. I have learned to never be content or settle for mediocrity. I’ve learned to be a student in the classroom, in the community and on the field. I’ve learned to never take no for an answer; I’ve determined that if there is a will, there is a way. My experiences here as a student-athlete are the reasons that I will be successful in whatever path I choose to pursue.

Being a student-athlete has taught me to work hard, and when I think I’m working hard, to work harder. It has shown me the importance of being loyal, it has shown me how to be disciplined, to work until I can’t anymore, and most of all, to be respectful. These traits will allow me to foster long-lasting, meaningful relationships, a successful career, and most importantly, a fulfilled and gratuitous life.

My experiences at Marquette have developed me into the woman that I want to be and more. Despite the impact being a student-athlete has had on me, the most important thing that Marquette has instilled in me is not in the form of a lecture, or a drawn up play, but in developing a sense of understanding. I’ve learned the importance of consistently treating people with respect because you never know what battles people are fighting behind the smiles. This University has driven me to be gracious, appreciative and humble.

The single most influential moment in my time at Marquette hit me like a brick wall. It occurred as I stood in the AMU waiting for my bagel…

I finally understood the meaning of “See written on the forehead of everyone you meet today ‘Make me feel important.” -Father Naus.

-Meredith Donaldson, A&S 

Oh What Wonderful Things Marquette Has to Offer!

Photos provided by Eric Nielsen

Being overwhelmed as a freshman coming into Marquette is very easy to happen. The abundance of programs and clubs to participate in seems like too much, but soon you find your spot in the Marquette community and start to flourish. All of these opportunities to further my education and progress into post-grad life could not have happened at just any school. Marquette was always there to aide this progress and I could not feel better about my upcoming graduation in May.

Throughout my time at Carmel Catholic High School, I did a lot of service events and coming to Marquette I received a scholarship due to my participation in this activity. This helped aide my decision to attend this school because it showed me how important something like service was to Marquette. Rather than just focusing on education, they wanted to focus on bettering the student and the community and this has resonated at my (almost) four years here.

Upon entering Marquette as a Business major, which quickly changed to Communications, I noticed the direct presence of clubs and programs set up to help any student find something they were interested in learning about. The two things that changed my time at Marquette the most were the decisions to join Greek Life as a Kappa Sigma and to study abroad in Rome, Italy during the summer. These opportunities allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and establish friendships and connections I can use for life. Without these wonderful opportunities, I do not know if I could have survived college.

If I had a choice, I would always choose Marquette again. Everything experienced, the people I met, and the help going forward in post-grad life were all aided by Marquette “being the difference” in my life. 

-Eric Nielsen, Comm ‘14 

"So a Tour Guide, a Nurse and a Comedian walk into Marquette Place…"

Photos provided by Jena Wallander

I’m a tour guide, and one thing that always strikes me when I walk into the Office of Admissions is a phrase on the wall: “Arrive as you are; depart transformed.” That phrase has stuck with me since I first saw it, and I think about it a lot. Who was I when I came to Marquette, and who am I now as I prepare to leave it? Am I truly transformed?

As a nursing student, I suppose I’m supposed to focus on how the College of Nursing transformed me. In some ways, it totally has. I was lucky enough to be able to go to Peru this summer for the Community Nursing in Peru program, and I wasn’t prepared for how life changing that experience would be. It renewed my faith in general and it renewed my faith in nursing and the power of human connection. I was humbled by so many beautiful people, from Peru and from Marquette, who welcomed me into their lives and accepted me for who I am. There are so many more words to describe my experience in Peru, but the bottom line is that if it weren’t for Marquette, I would never have gone there. I would never have been transformed.

I am really lucky here, because nursing is just one piece of the puzzle. Being involved in Midnight Run helped me realize my passion for hunger and homelessness, and joining the Studio 013 Refugees helped me understand that my sense of humor helps me connect with people. I think we can all pinpoint one thing from Marquette that helped us grow, but more importantly, I think we all could pinpoint more than three things if we tried. It could be a roommate, a club, a team, a friend, whatever. And when I think of how my experiences at Marquette shaped me, it only makes sense to be grateful and want to continue that experience for whoever else comes along.

Also, here’s a joke: Two muffins were sitting in an oven. One muffin says, “My it sure is hot in here.” The other muffin says, “AHHH! A talking muffin!”

—Jena Wallander, Nursing ‘14

A Leap Of Faith!

Photos provided by Kyle Hresko.

"Sometimes, all you need to take is a leap of faith." When Kyle Hresko, a Flint, MI native got accepted to the Pre-dental Scholars Program three years ago, that’s exactly what he did. When he was 17, Hresko knew that he wanted to go to college to eventually become a dentist, but he wasn’t sure where and how he’d be able to do that. His mother had told him about the Pre-Dental Scholars Program as a high school senior, and decided to apply for the highly selective program. As a program that selects only twenty students every year, Pre-Dental Scholars come into freshman at Marquette with a conditional acceptance to the Marquette School of Dentistry, provided that they earn no less than a cumulative 3.5 GPA each semester and at least a B in all math and science courses. Although these high standards concerned Hresko, he was ready for the challenge that was brought before him, and it pushed his work ethic during his first three years of undergrad at Marquette.

Now in his final year of undergrad, and first year of dental school, Hresko has already seen the immense benefits of the Pre-Dental Scholars program. Only in his first semester, Kyle was able to practice virtual orthodontic surgery in the School of Dentistry Simulation Lab, and he describes the work of dentistry as ” an art.” Hresko says, ” You have to train your hands to let them know what you want them to do”, and the School of Dentistry has given him the hands-on learning tools to be a creative, productive, and skilled dentist when he graduates in four years.

Other than the academic preparedness, Hresko is glad that he took a leap of faith on fostering long-lasting friendships with the same guys that he met in his first year, residing at Abbotsford Hall. More than anything, Kyle sees his Marquette experience as a forming of brotherhood, and he could not imagine his time here at Marquette without his best friends, The friends that he roomed with in Campus Town, traveled in the freezing cold to the Bradley Center for #MUBB games, and became intramural soccer champions with. Kyle Hresko new that he would gain a great education through Marquette and the Pre-Dental Scholars Program, but he would’ve never imagined gaining an entire set of brothers for life.

So seniors, we ask you, what has shaped your Marquette experience? What program or person has helped you #BeTheDifference? Let us know!

A Journey Through the Meaning of Service!

Photos provided by Sterling Hardaway.

When I think about my of the four years that I have spent at Marquette, I cannot picture my experience without the time that I have committed to service. As one of the four pillars of our university, we often mention service and how it can have an impact on a community, but we do not always discuss the personal impact that doing service can have.

Before I came to Marquette, I thought I was an expert in service. During high school, I donated my clothes to Goodwill, served meals at local soup kitchens, and packaged canned goods at food pantries. I thought of service as a way that I could do something good for a couple of hours that will help the lives of those less fortunate become a bit easier.

As a freshman, I sought out more opportunities to serve. I participated in the Marquette Action Program (MAP) during Spring Break and traveled to Canton, MS. In Canton, a group of 12 students and I built community gardens, painted houses, and repaired a wheelchair ramp. At first, I thought I had an understanding of service, my trip facilitators stressed that service wasn’t a one-time task that you could check off a list. Instead, service was a continued process, one in which you give your time and effort to a community, while receiving awareness and education about the issues that affect them in return. After this experience, I came back to Marquette wanting to get involved in long-term service opportunities, and I found that through Midnight Run. Serving a hot breakfast twice a week at The Gathering, St. James Church on 9th and Wisconsin Avenue allowed me to feel a connection with the Milwaukee community that did not exist before.

In my junior year, I was afforded the opportunity to co-coordinate Hunger Clean-Up, and I cannot describe the experience other than life-changing. Spending every day thinking of ways in which to improve upon the largest annual student led service project on Marquette’s campus transformed how I thought about service. Service was not just about volunteering, but my experiences at Marquette have educated me on the deeper purpose of service. Service is about being informed about the issues affecting a community.  Service is about helping to strengthen a community in the present and for the next generation, and I’ve learned that I can integrate the principles of service through all facets of life.

As I reflect upon my time here at as a senior with less than 200 days until graduation, I can’t help but be grateful to the community of Marquette and Milwaukee that have afforded me so many opportunities. I have grown so much as an individual, as a leader, and as a citizen because of programs of Campus Ministry, the Center for Community Service, and the Office of Student Development.  This passion for service that has arisen in me begins to make me reflect on how I can serve the Marquette community in the short time that I have left here, and more importantly, how I can serve the next generation of Marquette students.

So seniors, I ask you, what has transformed your experience in the past four years? What has made you #BeTheDifference? Let us know.

-Sterling Hardaway

Senior Challenge Co-Chair